The Week In Video
A steady flow of check discs, screeners and finished copies of assorted Blu-rays and DVDs arrives on our doormat at The Raygun every week.
There are regular updates on new films available through services such as Ready To Air, as wells our regular subscriptions to LOVEFiLM and, latterly, Netflix. We (inadvertently admittedly) get all Sky’s movie channels (pretty much free), will probably try out Sky’s new offer too and, when we’re not out, spend an inordinate amount of time watching television.
The last time we counted, some time in 2011, we were averaging around a film a day over a monthly period, give or take.
Most of the screenings we attend come via our regular correspondent Alex Kidd, who spends the week (and weekends) attending scores of different films to bring his thoughts to our readers. His status as film fanatic – he runs one of London’s growing number of film clubs and is a well known face at festivals and events – is furthered by his credentials as a former HMV staffer, meaning he knows what will and won’t perform well at cinemas and on retail.
Anyone who has seen us on Twitter will know that we regularly update our growing band of followers with what we’ve been watching, using our scoring system whereby everything must have a mark out of five relevant to the film (it was devised in conjunction with our junior correspondents and some pals).
But, we’ve been thinking recently, let’s not waste the amount of films we watch at home, let’s talk a little about some of these. And so, we unveil The Week In Video, our new regular column whereby we run through some of our recent viewing.
And so, without further ado, here’s our Week In Videos…
Our plans for the week’s viewing were initially thrown into turmoil, thanks in no small part to the fact that the eldest of our two junior correspondents was under the weather and didn’t go into school, meaning that anything that was slightly stronger in content was relegated to the bottom of our extensive To Watch pile.
We plumped instead for one that had been sat there for a while, Cowboys And Aliens, last year’s genre clash that melded sci-fi with the Western. We soon switched it off, after realising this was (as someone in the know confirmed to us) at the top end of the 12 certificate scale.
LOVEFiLM it was then, and I let our junior correspondent make the choice, meaning we got Get Smart, followed by Bruce Almighty. The former represents the kind of film that is, what we’d have called in the old days, a perfect rental title. A solid enough performer at theatrical, further awareness thanks to the film’s stars and a cracking trailer to boot. And it’s smart enough, a decent if unspectacular comedy (and this is coming from a fan of Steve Carell), but you’ve already seen the film’s best bits in the trailer. Bruce Almighty is noteworthy as a LOVEFiLM option in that it shows the kind of studio deals that the operation can now boast. And our sick junior correspondent enjoyed it, or at least the best part of it.
Our next evening viewing was 21 Jump Street, the recently released comedy starring Jonah Hill and, in a stroke of fortuitous timing for SPHE, current hunk du jour, Channing Tatum. After a few run of the mill titles from the likes of Hill and his assorted friends, associates and contemporaries, our expectations weren’t too high, but we were really rather pleasantly surprised. The first half an hour or so, in particular, is hilarious and although it eventually becomes weighed down by the burden of plot, this is certainly far better than, say, The Sitter, which sat uneasily between 18-rated swearathons and some kind of family-friendly John Hughes comedy. Its potential has been borne out by sales so far.
Comedy of a somewhat trashier and far more lowbrow kind came courtesy of The 25th Reich, the latest entrant into the current vogue for Nazis with a twist movies such as Dead Snow and Iron Sky. This is by far the cheapest and least credible of the lot, concerning time travelling Nazis who evolve into spider-like machines and the assorted bunch of Second World War Yankee soldiers who take them on. It’s daft, but with the right sleeve, this is the kind of film that will always sell as a lower-priced item.
Nazis of a different kind were on offer in This Must Be The Place, arguably one of 2012′s oddest outings, with Sean Penn as the Robert Smithalike goth rock star who decamps from his adoptive Irish home on an odyssey involving his dying Jewish father and the Nazi concentration camp guard who tormented him. Once you’ve got over Penn’s rather odd mannerisms, ticks, voice and laugh, the viewer will be rewarded. It’s one of relatively recent new label Trinity’s biggest titles thus far, its high profile theatrical launch will have created awareness, while Penn’s transformation will arouse consumer interest. Good to see an independent picking up a title of this scale, it’s worth keeping an eye on its performance.
One of the year’s best documentaries, and a timely release, comes in the form of Arrow’s Salute, due on DVD on July 30. We’ve already covered this on our newsletter, and Arrow has garnered plenty of coverage for this tale of the three athletes who ended up on the winners’ podium after the 200 metres event in the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Two African American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, raised clenched fists, giving the universally recognised black power salute. The film looks at what happened leading up to the event and the repercussions that affected not just these two but white Aussie sprinter Peter Norman, the silver medallist. It’s akin to Hoop Dreams, the epic tale of wannabe basketball players and one that arguably helped kickstart the current documentary boom. Salute is moving, powerful and, thanks to some smart activity from Arrow, which included bringing Smith over to the UK, should become a strong seller. It’s already received acres of coverage, expect this to continue in the run up to its home entertainment release.
We soon returned to Hell (Lionsgate), a recently released actioner that boasts the involvement of Roland Emmerich. He’s specialised in end-of-the-world popcorn flicks and this one, a German language outing, bears all the hallmarks of those, albeit with a bit more substance than some of his blockbuster outings. Post-apocalyptic films are one of the staples of the DTV market, Lionsgate’s nicely packaged release fits neatly into that genre and, from a recent store visit to our local Asda, looks impressive on shelves too.
Far removed from Hell is The Children’s Film Foundation: London Tales, although some of the scenes in post-war London look almost post-apocalyptic. We’ve often waxed lyrical about the BFI and its wonderful releases, and this latest is no exception, a trip down memory lane at the output of the CFF. Made for the old Saturday morning matinee screenings at British cinemas, they were also (to this writer’s memory at least) also screened at schools. Our junior school used to show them every Friday afternoon, for just a few pence entry fee, and this release conjures up memories of those after school sessions; all that’s needed for added authenticity is a cartoons, preferably classic Looney Tunes, between the films and a packet of Golden Wonder crisps. It carries the BFI badge, enough to guarantee interest alone, but with the PR opportunities this provides, aligned to the nostalgia factor and the timely London feel, this should find an audience.
Our TV viewing over the week has seen us complete not just one but two series, which are linked, albeit loosely. So we reached the end of the first series of The Bridge, aka Borgen, from Arrow’s Nordic Noir imprint, and were left with that empty kind of feeling you sometimes get. This one will sell and sell and get the odd boost as new Nordic Noir-style series arrive on BBC4.
The US version of Nordic Noir standard-bearer The Killing is nearing the end of its second series on Channel 4 (no date set yet for Fox’s release of this) and, frankly, we’re somewhat relieved, as rather than offering a new case, as the second series of the original Scandinavian offering did, it has revisited the first outing. It didn’t really end with the killer being caught, and instead we’ve had a whole load of additional material thrown at us. It’s good and is still drawing audiences, it just seems a step too far and is a tad to complicated for our liking.
And we’ll end where we started, Cowboys And Aliens. After our junior correspondent returned to school, we finally caught up with the end of it. And yes, we’re still surprised about that certificate.Tags: review, The Raygun, week, week in video
Tweets by @theraygun